Angels pitcher Hector Santiago took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge before a game against the Cleveland Indians in August 2015.
Photo: Angels Baseball LP/Getty Images
Photo: Angels Baseball LP/Getty Images

Man who inspired ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dead at 46

Anthony Senerchia Jr., who helped inspire the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, died Saturday, ending a 14-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Time reported. He was 46 and died in Pelham, New York.

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“He worked tirelessly to raise awareness for ALS and was directly responsible for the world-renowned Ice Bucket Challenge,” Senerchia Jr.’s obituary said, calling him “a fireball who tried everything in life.”

Senerchia was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2003. Gehrig was a Hall of Fame first baseman for the New York Yankees who died of the disease in June 1941.

“It’s a difficult disease and tough when you’re losing,” his wife, Jeanette, told the Journal News Media Group. “Your body is failing you. But he was a fighter. … He was our light. He made our life better.”

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million during two months in 2014, with most of that money earmarked to fund research, Time reported.

When Jeanette Senerchia’s cousin, golfer Chris Kennedy, was nominated to participate in the challenge, it was not yet specifically connected to ALS, Time reported. But when Kennedy passed along the challenge to others, he chose the ALS Association as a beneficiary because of Anthony Senerchia’s battle with the disease.

“What started out as a small gesture to put a smile on Anthony’s face and bring some awareness to this terrible disease has turned into a national phenomenon,” Kennedy told Time in 2014, “and it is something we never could have dreamed of.”

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